With all the possible outcomes, I feel the best one would be signing Bryce Harper and Mike Moustakas and forgetting about Manny Machado. Sounds like a contender to me. How likely of a scenario is that?
-- Chip B., Egg Harbor Township, N.J.
Nothing would surprise me at this point, but if the Phillies sign Harper over Machado, it seems unlikely they sign Moustakas, particularly after Thursday's trade to acquire J.T. Realmuto. In the eyes of the Phillies, they just acquired the best catcher in baseball and another productive bat for the heart of the lineup. Again, if they sign Harper, the Phillies probably feel more than comfortable moving forward with the lineup they have.
It is a lineup that would include Harper, Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Odúbel Herrera and César Hernández. If the Phillies need to move forward with Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery at third base, I'm sure they think they can handle it.
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And -- who knows -- maybe Franco takes a step forward like Moustakas did in 2015. Moustakas hit a combined .236 with 52 home runs, 199 RBIs and a .668 OPS in 1,993 plate appearances through his age-25 season in 2014. In 2015, he hit .284 with 22 home runs, 82 RBIs and an .817 OPS, making the American League All-Star team and helping the Royals win the World Series.
Franco has hit a combined .252 with 85 home runs, 287 RBIs and a .738 OPS in 2,111 plate appearances through his age-25 season.
Regardless, the Phillies are solely focused on Machado and Harper at this point. It's all about those two. And while everybody is ready for the madness to end, it really will be fascinating to see how it plays out.
If the Phillies do not sign Machado, can Kingery play third base?
-- Michael G., Media, Pa.
This relates to the first question: Perhaps the Phillies see third base as a way to get Kingery more playing time in 2019, now that Segura is expected to play regularly at shortstop and Hernandez remains the everyday second baseman.
Kingery saw some improvement at shortstop over the course of last season, so I'm sure the Phillies think he can play third base, too. He has the arm strength.
Give me the date the Phillies sign Harper or Machado.
-- Dan N., Brookfield, Wis.
I originally said Feb. 6 because I figured it would happen when I took a few days of vacation before Spring Training. (The Phillies made a big move this week. It just turned out to be a different guy.) But now I'm going to say Feb. 20, two days after the Phillies' first full-squad workout. But let's hope it's much earlier than that. Let's end this.